Gratitude

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The same day that I signed my life away up for the 2013 Chicago Marathon, I also committed to fundraising with Team Salute.  Salute Inc is an organization that helps out active duty military members, veterans and their families.

As most of you know I am a military mama by day and a blogger by night.

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I joined the military when I was 18, left for basic training one month after high school graduation and I had no idea where it would take me in life or who I would meet along the way.  Each experience and person has shaped me in some way and in the past 10 years of serving in the Air National Guard, I have earned my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UW-Milwaukee, I have been paid to travel to some very awesome places and the people I have met: not enough good words can be said about the people.  The Guard is truly like a little family-and in my case, I spend more time during the week with my co-workers than I do my actual family.

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When I chose to fundraise for Team Salute, I knew people at work would be very receptive I just wasn’t sure how receptive they would be.  This was the first time I’ve ever fundraised this amount and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The amount of support I received from co-workers, family and friends has been overwhelming.  When I got an e-mail notification of my first big donation from a fellow co-worker, my heart filled with gratitude and I got tears in my eyes.

Watching the donations come in the past few weeks has just been amazing.  On Saturday, I surpassed my fundraising goal of $800 and I still have until Sunday, October 13th to raise money.  This post isn’t a plug to get more money (although if you want to donate click here-it goes to a great cause!), I just simply wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me in one way or another.  Whether it was through a donation, words of encouragement, tidbits of advice or just simply listening to me go on about my marathon training-your support has been incredible and I am so lucky to have such wonderful people in my life.

Stay tuned: Later this week (FRIDAY!) I will be hosting a Giveaway on the blog! Check back here for the details Friday morning.

Greetings from Around the World

The past week has been a whirlwind.  I left my child for an extended period of time for the first time, I’ve been battling some serious jet-lag and I’m fighting a cold…all while trying to stay positive and upbeat.  As much as I’m truly enjoying myself, I can’t help but want to pull the covers over my head, go to sleep, wake up and have it be time to go home.  Here’s to hoping the next few weeks just fly right on by!

Leaving Madelyn, has by far been the hardest thing (emotionally) that I’ve ever done.  I cried the night before I left and I cried when I handed her over to my mom.  I know that she is being well taken care of, she’s just been such a big part of my life for over a year (if you count the time being pregnant) it’s hard to remember what life was like before.

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Instead of wallowing in my tears and being a Debbie Downer on this TDY, I’m taking this opportunity to focus on myself and do things that I couldn’t normally do at home.  Things like lay out in the sun and read a magazine (without the baby monitor right next to me), take extra long showers, spend hours at the gym, bust out my amazing “flip cup” skills from my college days, and NAPS!  I took one today and it was AMAZEFEST.

Hubs has been sending me videos every day of my sweet baby girl.  Those definitely help.  And FaceTime has been about an every day thing.  We’ve been able to talk to each other pretty much every day either through text or FaceTime. Today was the first time I was able to FaceTime home during Madelyn’s play time.  I saw her CRAWL for the very first time!!!  She got so excited when she saw my face on the screen and gave me a smile that I’ve never seen before.

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It’s nice to know that she hasn’t forgotten who her Mama is!

The location of this TDY couldn’t get any better, so I have that going for me.  That and the fact that my sister is here with me doing the military thing with me.  I’ll post some pictures on here when I get a chance.

My goal while I’m here is to focus on building my run miles, getting myself in good shape and gearing up for Marathon training-set to begin in June.  I hear Wisconsin’s been enjoying some summer-like temps the past few days.  Can’t wait to get back home to my family and to my garden!  Happy May!

Weekend Tidbits

Homeownership kept us pretty busy this weekend.  It was the first weekend we’ve been able to just futz around the house and get outside in the yard.  We spent a lot of time at Home Depot and World Market.

When we bought our house, we inherited a TON of garden space.

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I wasn’t joking.  When I first saw the space I was overwhelmed and immediately wanted to convert it back to a yard.  The only thing I’ve ever grown is a baby!  Then, during our second walk through I thought, “Well maybe we’ll take out the first three and keep the three beds behind the garage.”  After the previous owners accepted our offer, I met with the Mrs. and she informed me that the 100 heads of garlic were growing in one of the beds that I wanted to take out.

I finally got back there this week and saw the garlic starting to sprout.  I got really excited and started to plan out what else I’m going to plant back there.  I planted some carrots in the same bed as the garlic.  I’m not sure of how they’re going to come out: those seeds are tiny! And I thought of a better way to plant them after I kind of just spread them around.  The rest of the planting and gardening will resume after I get back home in the beginning of June.

Another project I wanted to get done before I left at the end of this month was the accent wall in our bedroom.

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bedroom wall before

  I used a wall stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils to transform our wall into this:

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It was a really tedious job but I’m really happy with how it turned out.  The color is Special Gray from Sherwin Williams.  All the walls were painted with a matte paint and the accent wall was painted with a high gloss paint.  I used the matte paint to go over the high gloss paint.  I’m really glad I stuck with the same color.  Unless you’re a stenciling expert, if you’re going to do this, I would recommend sticking with similar colors.  There were a few little mistakes but it’s really hard to see them, which I’m very thankful for.

The very BEST part of my weekend came today when I was reunited with my sister.  She’s been deployed for two months and we’re so happy to have her home.  Madelyn has missed her auntie!

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When Melissa and I found out the date and time of when she was scheduled to come home we decided to not tell my mom, but rather surprise her at work.  Thankfully, everything fell into place and we were able to pull of an awesome surprise homecoming!

Welcome home to my sister and best friend!  We have some wine dates to catch up on :-)

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Good evening!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  It was a drill weekend for me, so it was pretty uneventful.  Yesterday after work, hubs and I met up with some friends at the zoo.  A girlfriend of mine is a radiology tech at a local hospital and her job was giving them an employee appreciation night at the zoo.  She had some extra wristbands and invited us along.  We had a lot of fun catching up and seeing the animals, but I forgot how big the Milwaukee County Zoo was!  It was great exercise but I was definitely ready for bed by the time we got home.

Something GREAT happened this weekend…my job finally became permanent!  The applications came back and it was between me and one other person, who was just as qualified as me even though I’ve been in the position for the last 6 months.  I was a little bit nervous for the interview, but I did pretty well.  It’s such a relief knowing that I have a permanent full-time job in WI.

Tonight, we dined in the celebrate the good news.  I wanted to enjoy dinner on the patio and just take it easy tonight, so I prepped while hubs grilled.  I decided to give stuffed chicken a try.  I cut the chicken breasts lengthwise making sure not to cut all the way through (just about 1/2 way) and created a “pocket” out of the chicken breast.  Then I rubbed some olive oil on them so that they wouldn’t stick to the grill.

After that,  I filled it with crumbled feta, olives, and seasoned it with garlic powder, pepper, and Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning.  LC grilled the chicken along side asparagus & zucchini.  Dinner was muy bueno!  We ate outside while listen to Today’s country hits on Pandora.  My idea of a perfect summer evening :-)

I’m off to get working on our wedding album (something I have to finish before baby arrives!) and cuddle with this little guy :-)

Enjoy the rest of your evening!

The End of an Era

This week has been the most stressful, yet exciting and at the same time kind of sad week of my life.  Big “emotional rollercoaster” if you will.  Hubs was doing some days at the base this week and on Tuesday we found out that he is being put on orders to work at the base for a few months with the potential of a full-time position.  Nice, right?  Well, he informed me that these orders don’t include housing, which I knew already and that they start May 1st.  I look at the calendar.  “So you mean to tell me we have to move to WI in 25 days and I’m not even in Chicago during the week to pack and get everything ready?”  That is exactly what he was telling me.

Panic mode, followed by excitement, followed by “what-ifs” flooded my mind.  I was surprisingly very calm given the situation.  I pause and look at him for a minute, “Okay, so we’re really doing this?” is what I responded with.  After he left my office, I immediately got on craigslist and started looking for a house.  I thought for sure all the good May 1st rentals would be gone.  I e-mailed my cousin who owns a few duplexes in the area and found out she had just rented one last week.  Bummer.  I lined up a few places for us to see and in record time (2 days), LC and I found the perfect home that would work for us right now.  It’s in an apartment complex, which I wanted to avoid, but is set up totally different than where we live now.  No shared hallway (therefore, no stinky smells coming from other apartments), private entrance, attached garage, washer and dryer IN UNIT (hallelujah!), a private patio area for grilling and al fresco dining, a grassy area for Oliver to play, fireplace, and a pool!  A pool…every “pregnant in the dead of summer” girl’s dream.

Even though we don’t plan on being in the house for more than a year, we’re hoping to buy our own place by next year, I wanted to make this house as much of a home as I can.  After all, this is the first place we’re bringing baby home to.  We were given permission to paint and LC said no.  We went back and forth on this and he agreed to the baby’s room and an accent wall in our bedroom.

As excited as I am that we will be moving back closer to my family and friends, I can’t help but be a little bit worried.  We’re still waiting to hear whether or not my position at the base will move from temporary to full-time.  Hiring for that starts next week, so here’s to hoping.  Also, at any point after LC’s orders are up, if there isn’t a full-time spot for him at the base, he will have to commute back and forth from Chicago.  So we’re taking a HUGE leap of faith in doing this, but I feel confident that everything will work out.

And Chicago…I’m very sad to be leaving the city.  I’m a city girl at heart.  I’ve lived there for almost 4 years and have considered it my home.  Every time I drive in and see the skyline, I can’t help but get excited :-) So I think that will be the hardest part for me out of all this.  Today, while I was laying in bed, thinking about how nice it would be to bundle up, grab some coffee and take Oliver for a walk in Grant Park.  I definitely forgot where I was (we’re in WI for Easter weekend & Oliver is with his grandparents in Chicago). Luckily, LC’s family and friends still live there so we will for sure be back for lots of visits and I still plan on taking the little one on walks through Lincoln Park, the zoo, Cubs’ games, and the Green City Market.  I will definitely miss the running scene in Chicago among lots of other things, but I’ll save that for another day.

Obviously, the name of the blog will be changing and I’m open to any suggestions on the name and how to make improvements on the blog.

I’m off to get a workout in, have lunch and a little retail therapy with a friend, and sign the lease to our new home today!  Enjoy your weekend.